Thursday, March 10, 2011
Reach out and help someone...
I have recently received a comment from an older post about depression, low self-esteem and thoughts of suicide. It can easy to sit behind our masks of anonymity and say, "Snap out of it, things will get better." But we all know that the world can be a big, lonely, and sometimes an ugly place.
We feel abandoned by our friends, family and loved ones. Our sense is that we are the only person alive facing this emptiness. We feel as though we are invisible and the people who should see our pain are just going on with their lives without a care for ours. And, we feel like we are moving through our lives in slow motion, with the weight of the world pressing us down. We feel cast aside and put upon. I know, I have been there.
At this moment, you may be very discouraged about life. Life may now appear to you as an endless, tragic treadmill, not really worth the effort of living or having. Perhaps you are saying, right now, life holds nothing for me. It feels like one bad experience and lousy trip after another. Nobody loves me; nobody cares if I live or die. Nobody would notice. Again, I tell you, I know!
In the midst of your despair, doubt, frustration, and hopelessness, I want you to realize that Jesus Christ has another view of life to offer you; a view that is truly wonderful. Jesus has some special words for us: He said, "I came that they may have life, and have it more abundantly" [John 10:10]. With these words, Jesus lifts life above the physical, and promises us that the abundant life has a divine and eternal quality to it. In Genesis, the Bible tells us that we were created in the very image and likeness of God; and, if God made us like Himself, then our lives must have great worth, meaning, destiny, and purpose.
Jesus came to give each of us a good life. And, we are meant to enjoy some of these benefits right here on earth. Life can have many beautiful moments which you can and should enjoy and cherish. And, normal life has it's high and low points.
Being moody and downhearted on a temporary basis is a natural part of everyone's personality. But we should not allow our deep and despondent moods to control our very being. I know that you may want to blame yourself unduly for all the things that ever go wrong. You may want to punish yourself and others for the deep personal problems which you run into.
However, the abundant life which Jesus gives prepares our hearts with a mature love which can endure pain and suffering. The Apostle Paul says that this mature love "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails . . . " [I Corinthians 13:7,8].
Read carefully, because it is vitally important that you understand this. God really cares for you. In John 3:16, we read, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life".
There are Christian people who really care for you as well. We care whether you live or die. We want you to experience and enjoy your abundant life in Christ. We want to introduce you to and have you know and feel ("taste and see") a love that never fails. John also tells us in I John 4:18, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear . . .". This love really can be yours, and you can have and enjoy a life that is meaningful and purposeful. If you really want to enjoy life, then serve the giver of life - God. Again, the Apostle John says in I John 5:3,4, "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith".
Depression is one of our nation's number one emotional illnesses; and it keeps increasing. Rising suicide rates, especially among young people, show the final road which depression takes people to. Broken, unhappy homes and wasted lives are often the result of uncontrolled depression.
Sometimes, depression isn't all bad. It can tell us that we need to stop and take stock, have a rest, or perhaps have a physical examination to see if there is a medical problem that needs to be cared for. Most often, this is not the case. In times of depression we need to check ourselves and be sure we are not the owner of a selfish, self-pitying, or ungrateful heart. The wise Solomon said: "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7. In discussing depression, we must believe fully that God has a remedy for every problem and that we can go to Him for help.
Here are some positive, Biblical steps to take to overcome depression:
Recognize that God created you in His image and therefore you are good. He wants you to be happy. He gave His only begotten Son so that you might have eternal life (John 3:16).
Believe that God is faithful to do what He has promised for you. Look for His abundant life. God has promised to meet our every need (Phil. 4:19; Eph. 3:20; Matt. 7:11). It is not ours to worry about food, clothing and shelter. God has promised that if we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, He will add these material things to us (Matthew 6:25-33). Let His spirit dwell in your richly, causing you to have a song in your heart, an attitude of thanksgiving and a submissive spirit (Eph. 5:19-21). No misery or depression should exist in such a heart. We should practice thanksgiving and praising the Lord for all things. The demonstration of a submissive spirit is when we can thank and praise God, when things are not going the way we want.
Be thankful in everything (I Thess. 5:18).
Think on positive things, things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report (Phil 4:8). Realize that all things do work together for good to them that love the Lord (Romans 8:28). Do not dwell on past unhappy experiences, bad news in the world today, or ways in which life seems to have beaten you down. Think about all the ways life has been a blessing to you.
Have a forgiving spirit. Harboring bad feelings or thoughts of unforgiveness hurt our fellow beings and can cause us to feel very depressed. Telling others you are sorry you have wronged them or that you have forgiven them for something they have done to you in the past can often be one of the most freeing, beneficial and uplifting ways of bringing about a peaceful heart.
Try giving yourself away. Do something for someone else. Practice random acts of kindness (do something for someone, don't tell them, and don't expect anything). Whether you want to accept it or not, there are many people in the world who are worse off. Luke 6:38 tells us how richly we will be rewarded if we give of ourselves. One of the best rewards will be freedom from depression. Galatians 6:2 tells us to help bear one another's burdens.
Find some physical work to do, for ourselves or for others. Plan with God's help and prayer not to be depressed. Live one day at a time instead of taking on your whole future life at once. A lot of depression and heartache could be avoided if we learn to do this, and learn to do it early in life. Live one day at a time. Tomorrow is not promised. To borrow a phrase from my New Age friends, "Be here now."
Let God's spirit rule your life. Ask your friends to pray with you and for you about your depression. Hebrews 13:5,6 say, "Let your life be free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, 'I will never fail or forsake you"'. That's why we can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?" Remembering this, we can "Rejoice in the Lord always," as Paul suggests in Phil. 4:4.
We are all in this together. Reach out and touch someone else's life. It will be a benefit to both of you. Look around you. Really look. Many of our friends and neighbors fight through quiet desperation. Let them know they are not alone...God has commanded it!